Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New York with friends at Christmas

On my 3rd full day in New York I needed a lie in, so I spent the majority of the morning in bed and then threw a dice to see about plans for the 1st week after New Year in Niagara Falls. I'm planning on seeing the East coast after New Year, but hadn't decided how to travel or how long to spend in places, so I let the dice decide. The 1st decision was where to go after Niagara. There aren't many places that are easy so I decided on Buffalo, but then how to get away from there? Bus, Car or Plane. I threw the dice and it decided a plane. Then where to go – 3 choices- Chicago, Boston or Montreal. I threw a 4 which gave me Boston. So that's me sorted till about 8th Jan.

I headed out after booking a flight and Hostel and spent the next couple of hours wandering the High Line Park. An old elevated train track which was due for demolition, but was saved and turned into a beautifully styled piece of parkland. The old track is still there, but now has natural grasses and plants growing around it, with a walkway along which you stroll and take in NY from a new perspective. There are railway sleepers to sit on, a really cool triangular bird box station, where you can sit and watch the local sparrows and such eating from a few inches away and a window om the world, where you can sit above a street and watch the traffic and locals pass by as you look through a window. Its a really cool place and all within a few feet of the heart of Manhattan.

I also visited Greenwich and the Village to see some of the posher areas of town where house sell in the millions of $. A walk up 5th Avenue took me to see the amazing Flatiron building, which is only about 6 feet wide at its thinnest point. Next, after a coffee break I wandered up to Grand Central Terminal, where so many famous movies have been filmed and where the interior is such a stunning , beautiful area, you just sit/stand and stare at the place. I spent ages there just people watching, before heading outside and my final spot of the day was The Chrysler Building, which is just beautiful. I could look up at it all day. It has to be my favourite building in New York.

Highline with the old rails still showing

Street view

Overgrown part of High-line park

Bird feeder....cool  

I wandered back towards 34th street to the cinema to watch the Girl with the dragon tattoo, but on the way I saw my first steam rising from under the streets of New York – Cool!!!

I was rudely awoken by new room mates late last night and early this morning. So didn't get much sleep last night. However, I still got up and went out this morning to see the Rockefeller Centre and visit the Observation deck – The Top of the Rock. I started with a wander around the Ice Rink at the bottom and a look at the cool creations inside the Lego store – including a Lego Rockefeller Centre!!Then I went up to the top where you get the best views of Manhattan – over Central Park and past the Empire State building all the way to The Statue of Liberty. I loved being up there and spent a good couple of hours just taking in the views, before heading down again and getting a coffee. The a real look around Times Square at all the neon signs, big screens and a bit of people watching from the red steps that sit in the centre of the square. This time next week it will have a million people in the square, waiting for New Years!!

Window on the world, with a $100,000 note to look at~!

Having a rest

Flatiron building

In Grand Central Terminal

Outside and with the Chrysler building behind

Lego Rockefeller centre!!

Top of the rock with the empire steae behind

.....and with Central Park behind

I also visited Toys R Us, to see the indoor ferris wheel and superheroes – but it was mental inside and I didn't stay long. I got on the Subway and travelled to Franklin Street, where the Fire Station that was used in Ghostbusters is situated. It was so quiet down there, I was all on my own again for a while and so I took some photos before grabbing a spot of lunch at an Italian place and then went back to the Hostel for an afternoon rest.

I had my laundry in when I got a message from Sid, who arrived today and is in Times Square. I'm now heading out to meet up with him and his girlfriend Claire, for a beer or 6!! Merry Xmas!

Cool or Tacky keyring...you decide!

Outside a Fire station......

......the Ghostbusters Firestation!!!!

Xmas morning at 9/11 memorial.

The south memorial pool

Twice used Fire Helmet from 9/11

Xmas dinner at The Rock Cafe

The south pool again....


We made our way up on the Subway towards Central Park, where we were planning to do some Ice Skating, but the queue was massive and so we decided to do some walking around Manhattan and see some sights. So 5th Avenue, Rockefeller X,as tree and Ice Rink, The Library, Grand Central and The Chrysler Building were all ticked off Sid and Claires to do list before a short play with the squirrels in Madison Park, near the Flatiron building. Then after we all had an afternoon break, we met up again and had a delayed Xmas dinner at the Rock Centre Cafe. I had a Filet Mignon steak and loved it, before we had one more beer in a Times Square bar before bed.

The last full day in New York started slowly. I sat in my bed watching the Man United game on the internet and eventually met up with Sid and Claire for the trip up the Empire State Building just before 4pm. I had an express pass and could have bypassed the big queues at any time, but Sid and Claire didn't so they 'upgraded' to a quicker pass and we were taken into the building by a back door by a guy off the street and told that they would pay their upgrade fee when we went up. We still queued for 25 minutes or so before one of the official Empire State Building employees saw my Express pass and asked why I was queuing. When I said that my 2 friends didn't have the pass and they were promised to be upgraded for $22, he shook his head and took us down a back corridor before letting us in and jumping the whole queue. Within 5 minutes we were up om floor 80 and waiting to get on top of the building. All without paying extra!! What a cool guy!

We eventually took the stairs for the last 6 floors and loved it up there. It has great views over the beautiful city of Manhattan, but also being the empire state building everything has an old and quality feel about it, from the lifts to the architecture all around you. Much better than the modern day observatories that claim to be the highest this or that, but lack any atmosphere. This is a cool, special building and probably my favourite tall building I have been up on my trip so far. We also got lucky with the timing and weather as there was a beautiful sunset about 10 minutes after we got up top. We also made it up to the little inside observatory on the 102nd floor, where the views are even better.


Up top.

Manhattan sunset......nice!

Getting darker 


After a good hour and a half we made our way back down, took some photos in the famous lobby and went for dinner in a really nice grill/bar on 8th Avenue after a quick look around Madison Square Garden. Dinner was really good and absolutely massive, so it was no surprise that we headed off home soon afterwards to rest. I said goodbye to Sid and Claire and went to pack my stuff or a journey to Toronto tomorrow. It was really great to catch up with Sid and to meet Claire too. Its been a great Xmas, but tomorrow the travelling continues!

I'm now sat on the Greyhound bus somewhere between NY and Toronto. Its an 11 hour journey, so I have plenty of time to do nowt and rest today. I also saw a stunning sunrise this morning as I waited for my bus at 7am and looked down 34th street and saw the bright red sky behind the Empire State. A great way to start the day.  

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